According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) consumers lost 228 million dollars last year to scams in which gift cards were used as the payment method and this number has increased each year since 2018. Scammers are big fans of gift cards because they are easy to purchase, easy to send to the scammer and impossible to trace to the scammer. It is not even necessary for the scammer to be in possession of the actual gift card to use it. Sending the gift card numbers or taking a picture on your phone and transmitting it to the scammer is sufficient for the scammer to use the gift card to buy things that can then be sold and converted into cash.
Here is an email message I received recently from the email address of one of my friends:
“Steve, I’ve been having issues trying to order an Amazon gift card by email delivery on Amazon, I was wondering if you could help me order an Amazon e-gift card from your Amazon account. I’m only looking to spend $300 (100 denominations), and I will refund it back to you as soon as possible. Once you are done with the order, email me pictures of the Amazon gift card with the codes.”
This email obviously did not come from my friend, but rather from a scammer who had hacked my friend’s email account. Getting such messages from email addresses or social media accounts of people you know and trust can lead you into trusting the message and getting scammed. Trust me, you can’t trust anyone. B.S. Be skeptical. Anytime you are asked for personal information, credit card information or to send a gift card for any reason, you should be suspicious.
Although it is impossible to stop payment on a gift card or trace the user after the scammer has used it, if you recognize immediately that you have provided a gift card to a scammer, you can report it to the issuer to cancel the card. Here is contact information for some popular gift cards.
- Call 1 (888) 280-4331.
- Keep the Amazon card itself and your receipt for the Amazon card.
- Learn about Amazon gift card scams and how to report them. Click on “Contact us.”
- Report the gift card scam to Google.
- Keep the Google Play card itself and your receipt for the Google Play card.
- Learn about Google Play gift card scams and how to report them.
- Call Apple Support right away at 1 (800) 275-2273. Say “gift card” to connect with a live representative.
- Ask if the money is still on the iTunes card. If so, Apple can put a freeze on it. You might be able to get your money back from them.
- Keep the iTunes card itself and your receipt for the iTunes card.
- Learn about iTunes gift card scams and how to report them.
- Call Target GiftCard Services at 1 (800) 544-2943
- Report gift card scams to MoneyPak.
- Keep the MoneyPak card itself and your receipt for the MoneyPak card.
- Learn about MoneyPak gift card scams.
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